Portsmouth's woeful form on their Premiership travels went on yesterday as they failed to take advantage of an off-colour Bolton Wanderers.
Their frustration at their fruitless search for an equaliser boiled over in injury time when their defender Dejan Stefan-ovic was sent off for confronting the referee, Phil Dowd. The Serbian appeared to come into contact with the official as he complained about what he claimed was a foul on him by the Bolton goal-scorer, Kevin Davies.
The red card, awarded for foul and abusive language, put the final touch on another bad day on the road for a club whose inability to gather points away from Fratton Park could consign them to a speedy return to the First Division.
Stefanovic can expect to pay for his indiscretion. "People shouldn't get their wages if they can't play,'' said his unsympathetic manager, Harry Redknapp. "I won't stand for people getting sent off for dissent and swearing at the referee - especially in the situation we're in, with so many players injured and suspended.''
On a pitch which gave both sides trouble in basic control, the first half at the Reebok Stadium was one to forget. The best chance fell early on to Bolton's loan signing from Atletico Madrid, Javier Moreno, making his first start, but his shot flashed wide after he had been set up by Youri Djorkaeff. After that, the Spaniard looked uncomfortable wide on the right. What craft there was came from Djorkaeff, who made his share of mistakes but also demonstrated his usual educated use of the ball.
It was Djorkaeff's touch that released Micky Hunt in the 53rd minute, and his short cross was met by Davis's outstretched foot with just enough force to knock it past Shaka Hislop and into the net.
Pompey could have had an equaliser shortly after when Ayegbeni Yakubu - like Jay-Jay Okocha, playing for his club rather than travelling to join Nigeria for the African Nations' Cup - had a shot which skewed off Emerson Thome and on to the post. Equally, it could have been two for Bolton when Djorkaeff forced another save from Hislop, volleying Hunt's clever chip.
The final stages belonged to Portsmouth, with Alexei Smertin forcing a low, diving save and Yakubu firing wide. Teddy Sheringham should have done better than scoop the ball over the bar from Smertin's cross, and Patrik Berger got free only to drive past the far post.
Jussi Jaaskelainen still had to save at Yakubu's feet, but the game ended in a way that better summed up Portsmouth's fortunes away from home this season when Stefanovic saw red.
Despite that, Redknapp was convinced that his side deserved something from the game. "There was a bit of heart-in-the- mouth stuff at the end," admitted Bolton's manager, Sam Allardyce. "But it was a very, very, very important 1-0 win for us and we are back to the clean-sheet scenario.''
Bolton Wanderers 1 Portsmouth 0
Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 26,558Reuse content